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Brussels, 23 June 2003

Facilitating safety in animals and animal products: Commission issues manual to assist trading partners

Guidelines to explain the EU's import requirements for animals and animal products have been produced by the European Commission's Food and Veterinary Office (FVO) as part of efforts to facilitate safe food trade with third countries. The guidelines are based on existing legislative requirements and specificneeds identified by FVO inspectors in their contacts with third country partners. The aim is to provide service-oriented explanations of the sometimes complex EU legislation. A particular focus has been put on clearly explaining the steps that developing countries must take, thereby facilitating access to the EU market for their products.

David Byrne, Commissioner for Health and Consumer Protection, said “I expect these guidelines will facilitate safer food imports as we are spelling our for the first time in non-legal language what we expect from importers. This is part of my drive to ensure that European consumers have access to the safest possible food supply. Imports must live up to equivalent safety levels as food produced in our own Member States.”

The FVO has produced the “General guidance for third country authorities on the procedures to be followed when importing live animals and animal products into the European Unionto assist the national authorities of third countries wishing to export live animals or animal products to any of the EU Member States by:

  • explaining the general principles behind the existing system of approval of third countries for import of live animals and animal products into the Member States of the EU;

  • describing the administrative procedures that are followed when a request for approval is received from the national authorities of a third country;

  • providing information on the EU's animal health, animal welfare and food safety requirements, including animal welfare at slaughter;

  • providing details of contact points and other sources of information.

Community veterinary legislation imposes a series of requirements designed to ensure that imports meet animal health and food safety standards that are at least equivalent to those required for production in the EU and for trade between EU Member States.

The Commission already notifies all veterinary and phytosanitary regulatory measures to the World Trade Organisation in compliance with its obligations under the Agreement on Sanitary and Phytosanitary Measures (SPS). In turn, the measures are notified to WTO members who have the opportunity to clarify their trade implications and in particular their compliance with international standards.

This guidance document has the added value of bringing together in a single document all the key texts, including those which entered into force before the existence of the SPS Agreement. It should, therefore, be of considerable assistance to third countries, especially developing countries, that wish to establish the regulatory requirements applying to imports to the EU.

More information

The guidelines are available in English, French and Spanish at:

Further information on the activities of DG Health and Consumer Protection on food safety and animal health issues:

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